Frankenias (Frankenia spp.) in the Western Australian rangelands

Page last updated: Wednesday, 22 July 2020 - 12:51pm

Frankenias (Frankenia spp.) are some of many plant species found in the Western Australian rangelands.

This page provides a summary of the plant's value for pastoralism. Pastoral lessees and station managers can use this information to assess pasture condition and trend.

Indicator value

Where dominant, frankenias are an indicator of good to fair pasture condition. They are moderately resistant to grazing pressure and resistant to drought. If the drinking water has a high salt level, frankenias do not have an indicator value.

The Frankenia group of plants can become increasers when pastures with naturally saline soils become degraded and eroded. Frankenias have been observed as an increaser species in such circumstances in the Gascoyne, particularly when sheep are replaced by cattle.

Forage value

Frankenias are only eaten by livestock when the drinking water has low amounts of salt (below about 400 millisiemens per metre). Frankenias contain as much as 10% salt. The salt content can be substantially reduced for a short period after heavy rainfall because much of it accumulates and dries on the leaf surface. Sheep have a considerable tolerance for saline feed and are commonly responsible for heavily grazed frankenias.

Habitat

Saline soils

General description

Many species of Frankenia grow in saline areas and are greenish-grey shrubs. They grow to about 40cm high and 60cm wide. Leaves are opposite each other on the stem and are 3mm long and 1mm wide. A salty residue is often present on the leaves. The flowers have 5 petals and are up to 8mm in diameter; they are either pink, cream or white. Frankenias flower in August–October and seed in October–November.

Contact information

Matthew Fletcher
+61 (0)8 9166 4019
Kath Ryan
+61 (0)8 9166 4015